Web apps are not new, but there is a new term Progressive Web App (PWA) introduced by Google. What is it exactly? I got a taste of how it feels like developing one during CS3216 Assignment 3. Continue reading
App versus bot
Recently there has been a growing discussion on where the tech industry is headed towards. Together hypes of AI, bots seem to in the spotlight, and the immediate battle would be app versus bot. So what’s the difference between apps and bots and will bots dominate the future? Continue reading
Link to the app in Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=thack.ac.whatsoever
It all started out as an experiment on new views in Android L developer preview(now known as Android Lollipop). Sometime at late September, I was researching on how to Card-like views in Android and found out that CardView is part of the new Widgets introduced in Android L, together with RecyclerView.
When trying out RecyclerView(which is a replacement for old ListView), I thought of this idea to develop a Android app as a search engine for social media sites. I liked the Facebook style where each post is wrapped inside a card, so I want to build a interface where there is a RecyclerView, inside RecyclerView there would be a list of statuses/posts, each wrapped in a CardView.
For the social media site integration, I started with Twitter, and the integration with Twitter API was quite straight-forward thanks to a library called twitter4j. Everything is well-formatted and follows Java conventions and I did not have to do to much to populate the data into my CardView and RecyclerView.
Then I went on to try integrate Facebook, however, unfortunately, it appears that Facebook Graph API does not allow searching of posts/statuses. Hence, I had to give up on Facebook and try other social media sites.
The next one was Google+, there is a Google+ API client for Android, however, it requires logging in. I did not want that since I want to user to be able to search without having the trouble to log in. So in the end I used the Google APIs and parsed the json “half manually”. That is to take advantage of the pre-defined Google+ classes on Google+ provided in the Google+ API Java client, such as com.google.api.services.plus.model.Activity . This was pretty cool as all I had to do was to use response.parseAs(ActivityFeed.class).
Then I decided that Instagram should be also integrated. Instagram has a pretty well-documented API although it is a relatively new platform, however, there are no native or 3rd party libraries for Java or Android so I have to manually parse the json response. This involves some error handling but was still manageable. A good practice would be to create a Class and use response.parseAs, but I was a bit lazy and decided to just use some local variables.
At that point of time, CardView and RecyclerView were not well-documented, in fact there were no official documentations (now they are documented). So I have to work with limited resources and try to figure out how to use them by myself, it was a painful but exciting experience for me. Of course I put in a lot of time in designing the UI and improving the UX. I also got quite a few suggestions from my friends I tried to do modifications to improve the app.
So here it is, the Android App is in Google Play Store, please do give it a try!